The Monday Tilley Watch

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

The week begins with the eclipse eclipsing political news, if only for a moment. Good luck with that, eclipse.  As noted here last week the cover of the new issue (dated August 28, 2017) has received more notice than usual.  Read about it, and two covers from different publications, here. This is the first New Yorker cover for David Plunkert (it says so right on the  Contributors page in the issue. How did we ever manage before Tina Brown instituted a Contributors page many moons ago. Wait –don’t answer that.  It’s a rhetorical question).

I will briefly derail to mention that I often return to the contributors page that accompanied the very first Cartoon Issue (December 15, 1997). It wasn’t identified as the Contributors page — it simply said “Cartoonists” but you get the idea. It’s handy for tidbits of information not found elsewhere. A sample:

Back on track now and breezing through the front of the current issue.  After pausing, briefly, to stare blankly at the rejiggered Rea Irvin Talk of The Town masthead (sorry — this is very much a dog worrying a bone thing with me), we see several graphic eclipse references (one by the late great Otto Soglow, the other by the contemporary illustrator, Tom Bachtell).  I have to admit I was fooled into thinking that the Goings On About Town full page photo of the fellow very obviously pointing skyward was also an eclipse thing, but after reading the text, I was set straight.

Now to the issue’s cartoons.  Getting ahead of things, I noticed that the first three out of four drawings are death-or-injury related. An unannounced theme issue, perhaps? (Don’t answer that either.  It’s another rhetorical question).  I also noticed that the first cartoon didn’t appear until page 45. I don’t keep track of when the first cartoon appears in every issue (and I won’t start now, or should I?) but it’s noticeable. That first cartoon is a kitty drawing by David Borchart, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared nearly ten years ago (September 24, 2007).  Here’s an interesting piece about Mr. Borchart on Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils blog. 

A few pages later a rats-and- sauna drawing by Will McPhail (first New Yorker appearance: 2014). I can almost guarantee that this scenario has never appeared in the magazine before. It’s a caption-less drawing, yet the rat to the extreme left appears to be speaking. Just idle rat chat I guess. I had to look up the spoon used by the third rat in from the left. My search tells me it’s a ladle used to pour water over hot rocks to produce even more steam. I was unaware that hot rocks figured into manhole covers. You live, you learn. 

A couple of pages later we come to a beautifully placed Roz Chast drawing (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1978). I’m a fan of Ms. Chast’s summertime drawings (and covers).  On the very next page is a Liam Walsh drawing (his first New Yorker drawing appeared in July of 2011) —  the third of the aforementioned death-or-injury related cartoons (the other two: Mr. Borchart’s elderly kitty, and Ms. Chast’s lottery winner).  There are an awful lot of caskets in this cubicle-related drawing. Someone should really do a book of cubicle cartoons (Harry Bliss authored a book of death cartoons, Death By Laughter, back in 2008).

Next up is an Ed Steed drawing (his first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2013).  Mr. Steed recently had a run of death-or-injury related cartoons, but here the subject is Romantic Poets (that’s the title of the drawing).  I’m wondering (still) if the couple in bed are in one of those laboratories where people’s dreams, sex lives (etc.) are monitored. The large observation-like window suggests as much.  I like Mr. Steed’s sensitive lettering in this drawing.  Three pages following Mr.Steed’s drawing is newcomer, Maddie Dai (first New Yorker drawing appeared this past June). I wonder how many dentist offices will hang reprints of this cartoon.  The drawing seems firmly rooted in the school of Kanin (Zach Kanin), which was itself in the school of Addams (Charles Addams). Blue ribbon lineage. 

Three pages later is a Julia Suits drawing featuring crocs. (Ms. Suits first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2006). I’ve a passing familiarity with crocs (in other words, I’ve seen them worn) but the use of “hosed off” caused me to go to Google for a refresher course. This passage in the article cleared things up for me, hosing off-wise:

“The shoes’ original home was Boulder, Colo. The early Crocs customer was probably a Pacific Northwesterner who liked to boat or garden…”

Next up is an eye-catching cartoon by David Sipress (first New Yorker cartoon: 1998).  I’m a sucker for animated luggage cartoons. I’m surprised that only one other person in the area — that fellow with a suitcase nearest the animated luggage — acknowledged the luggage was alive.  Following Mr. Sipress’s cartoon is another caption-less cartoon with a character who is speaking. In this case, the speaker is likely reading out loud from Stories About Crumbs (I would definitely buy that book). Someone should really do a book of park bench cartoons.  (P.C Vey is the artist here. His first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1993). A broken-record aside: this is another well-placed cartoon. It’s so great seeing cartoons sit on the page as they should.

Five pages later is the familiar boxed drawing style of Harry Bliss (first New Yorker appearance: 1998).  This drawing requires some familiarity with Scooby-Doo

Five pages later is a Barbara Smaller drawing with,  as you might have expected for this late August issue of The New Yorker, a back-to-school reference. Ms. Smaller’s first New Yorker appearance was in 1996. Following Ms. Smaller’s cartoon is a Carolita Johnson cartoon. Of interest:  this 2015 Case For Pencils post about Ms. Johnson’s tools of the trade.

On the following page is the last drawing of the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest drawings appearing on the very last page). I can’t think of a better way to end the issue than with   a truffle-related cartoon by Joe Dator (his first New Yorker appearance: 2006).  I really do not want to get into “liking” certain drawings but since the die was recently cast when I liked a Bruce Kaplan drawing,  I’ll admit this drawing registered quite high on my inner laugh-o-meter.  For evaluations and ratings of every drawing in every issue I recommend going over to Cartoon Companion. They usually post their ratings for each new issue by the end of the week. I’ll say this about Mr. Dator’s work: for me, he is representative of that wonderful continuum of New Yorker artists who have their very particular world.  Think of George Price, or Richard Taylor, or Syd Hoff or Jack Ziegler.  I’m not suggesting that Mr. Dator’s sense of humor is similar to these artists (although you might be tempted to compare the senses);  I’m suggesting that he, like those artists, is as successful in providing us with a world of his own.  Good stuff.

 

 

 

 

Fave Photo of the Day; An Obscure Hoff

Of many wonderful photos from Jack Ziegler‘s memorial this past Saturday,  this one really caught my eye. Taken by the New Yorker‘s former television critic, Nancy Franklin, we see, from the left, the New Yorker‘s newly appointed cartoon editor, Emma Allen, then Anne Hall Elser, and Lee Lorenz, the magazine’s art editor from 1973 through 1993, and then cartoon editor from 1993 through 1997. We have Mr. Lorenz to thank for bringing Mr. Ziegler’s work into the magazine.  Ms. Elser was Mr. Lorenz’s invaluable assistant in the art department for his 24 years in that position.

At some point during Saturday’s event,  Danny Shanahan introduced Ms. Allen to Mr. Lorenz.  I’m hoping a photo will surface.

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An Obscure Hoff

Scott Burns, of Armadillo & Dicker Books out in California has sent in this scan of a hitherto (for me) unseen Syd Hoff piece. Here’s Mr. Burns’ description:

The Jigger. Fall, 1951, Vol 3. No. 4. Philadelphia: The Drake Press. 3”x6” stapled wrappers, 24 pp. Appears to be a trade magazine for distribution to bartenders and others in the liquor industry. Recipes, thirteen cartoons plus cover by Syd Hoff, TV announcements, party hints.
 
 
Note:  The Spill posts pieces such as this purely for historical reasons, i.e., there is no commercial attachment to this bookseller or any other.

Cartoonist David Sipress on Staying Sane in Trumpland; Attempted Bloggery Looks at Tomato Juice Ads by Thurber, Arno, Steig, Hoff, and Soglow; Cartoon Companion Rates the New Yorker’s Latest Cartoons; Preview: New Yorker’s 92nd Anniversary Issue Cover

 

Post of Interest:  David Sipress’s  Cultural Comment on newyorker.com, February 3, 2017 “How To Stay Sane As A Cartoonist in Trumpland”

See Mr. Sipress’s New Yorker work here on the magazine’s Cartoon Bank site.

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Attempted Bloggery updates a post looking into Libby Tomato Juice ads featuring some of the all-time great New Yorker cartoonists. See it all here!

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Cartoon Companion has returned with a look at the latest New Yorker cartoons (the February 6 2017 issue).  Read it here.

 

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The New Yorker has posted a preview of its upcoming anniversary issue.  Eustace Tilley fans, who look forward to seeing the magazine’s mascot every mid-February on the cover will have to wait another year (if not longer, judging by the last six years). The post also includes a slide show of the non-classic Eustace covers.

For those keeping track, Rea Irvin‘s  cover has not been on an anniversary issue since 2011.

 

Need more Tilley?  Here’s  “Tilley Over Time”  — a piece of mine that ran on the New Yorker‘s website in 2008.

And here’s Rea Irvin’s entry on Ink Spill‘s   “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z “:

Rea Irvin  (pictured above. Self portrait above from Meet the Artist) *Born, San Francisco, 1881; died in the Virgin Islands,1972. Irvin was the cover artist for the New Yorker’s first issue, February 21, 1925.  He was the magazine’s  first art editor, holding the position from 1925 until 1939 when James Geraghty assumed the title. Irvin became art director and remained in that position until William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross. Irvin’s last original work for the magazine was the magazine’s cover of July 12, 1958. The February 21, 1925 Eustace Tilley cover had been reproduced every year on the magazine’s anniversary until 1994, when R. Crumb’s Tilley-inspired cover appeared. Tilley has since reappeared, with other artists substituting from time-to-time.

 

 

 

The Outer Boroughs’ New Yorker Cartoonists: An Ink Spill Map

Joining two previous Ink Spill maps, The New Yorker’s New York, and New Jersey’s New Yorkers, is the Outer Boroughs’ New Yorker Cartoonists. Cartoonists included were born in the boroughs.  I’m fairly certain this is not a complete picture — corrections and suggestions always welcome (for instance: please advise if Staten Island had at least one native born New Yorker cartoonist).

[Click on the map to enlarge it].

outer-boroughs-nyer-cartoonists-map

George Booth: An Ink Spill Appreciation

Screen+Shot+2016-06-30+at+12.21.02+AMAttempted Bloggery has been focusing on George Booth this past week (including a close look at the drawing shown here), and why not? Mr. Booth turned 90 the other day; what better time to sing his praises and talk about what he brought to the New Yorker when his work first  appeared in the magazine in 1969. Mr. Booth’s style was a brand new creature, unlike anything the magazine had published before.

Booth arrived at the tail end of a decade that saw the introduction of a tidal wave of new artists appearing in The New Yorker: J.B. Handelsman in 1961, Charles Barsotti in 1962, Edward Koren in 1962, Robert Weber in 1962, Henry Martin in 1964, Donald Reilly in 1964, Edward Frascino in 1965, Mort Gerberg in 1965, Peter Porges in 1965, Ronald Searle in 1966, Dean Vietor in 1967, Rowland B. Wilson in 1961, Vahan Shirvanian in 1968,  Sam Gross in 1969 and George Booth in 1969.

Looking at the dates of entry, one can see how carefully James Geraghty (the magazine’s Art Editor at the time; he was hired by Harold Ross as Art Editor in 1939) had  infused the magazine with new blood. These fifteen arrivals  were scattered  over the course of a decade, fitting easily into (and not displacing) the existing pool of talent. In the best tradition of the magazine’s art department, they all brought something of lasting value to the magazine.  Indeed, every one of them had long careers.

Mr. Booth was and is no exception. His use of reappearing characters is somewhat akin to  Helen Hokinson’s so-called “lunch ladies” and Syd Hoff’s Bronx families of the the 1930s as well as George Price’s eclectic characters appearing in his drawings all through his long career. Booth, however, revisits specific characters in his work, people we’ve come to know and in situations we’ve grown to love:  the man in the claw-foot bath tub, for instance, or the garage mechanics in their oily splotched coveralls, or Mawmaw, a character based on his mother.  Henry Martin once said to me that certain cartoonists “draw funny” (trust me, it’s a highly complimentary remark).  Booth draws funny.  Before you reach the caption, the drawing itself has already begun working on you the way the very thought  of Charlie Chaplin works on you. No one draws like Booth.  As a beginning cartoonist I found his graphic mastery intimidating.  But it was also, of course, highly educational.  Look at the way he’s drawn the ceiling and the ceiling fan in the drawing accompanying this piece; the inclusion of the floor boards found behind cafe counters; the characters in wash in the background.  Each one of those customers has a story.  The two cooks in the foreground (Laurel & Hardy types) are perfect, most especially the smaller fellow. This is a scene out of life filtered through Booth’s comic genes.  These elements of style are what Booth does best. Lee Lorenz (who succeeded James Geraghty as Art Editor in 1974) once said that the best cartoonists are the ones who bring their own world into their work. In all of his work for the magazine in all these years Booth has stayed true to his world. He is, by definition, one of the best.

 

More Booth:

Here’s a George Booth interview  conducted by Richard Gehr in 2013

and David Owen’s  Profile of Mr. Booth in The New Yorker in 1998

All of Mr. Booth’s cartoon collections can easily be found on AbeBooks.com

A selection of both Booth’s drawings and covers (and even a few products adorned with his drawings) can be found on The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank site.